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Xyantha Reborn

- Actually Very Tame!
Jul 23, 2014
A classic tale of rags to riches...or not? A young woman struggling to support herself and help her family realizes life isn't just about work and money.

Trying a bit of a different feel for this one.

Chapter 1

“That will be five-sixty-five,” Rachel announced, holding out her hand. A ten dollar bill was deposited into her palm, and she quickly fished out the correct balance. “Thanks! Have a great day!”

Pausing, she rubbed her fingers together after depositing the bill. Something had been sticky on it, and a little shudder ran through her. Just pray it was food, it was food, just a little food…Leaning down as subtly as possible, she wiped her hands off on a damp rag, trying not to gag. Money had always grossed her out; it was kind of ironic that she touched it all day, now.

“Morning Rachel,” a friendly voice announced as several items were slid onto the counter – then closer, as if she wasn’t capable of seeing them from one foot away.

Glancing up, Rachel bestowed the owner with a smile. “Morning, you!” she answered. She didn’t know his name – she didn’t know most of the employee’s names. He was just Cottage Guy, to her. Courtesy of her nametag, they knew hers. It wasn’t as if she didn’t know anything about them, though. “How was the trip up to the cottage?” she asked as she quickly rang him through, anxious to keep ahead of the morning rush. Glancing up, the cashier noticed the line behind him growing. Damn, did every person in the entire company need a coffee this morning?

He looked gratified at her having remembered. “Great! You have to love the cottage in winter. Everything is so clean and crisp and fresh, you know?”

Nope, she didn’t. She didn’t know what it was like to even go to a cottage, let alone own one. Thankfully, she was spared having to answer by the horde of deadened telecomm employees waiting to pay for their coffee. “Later!” Turning to the next person with a smile on her face, she said, “Morning…”

Cottage Guy always broke a bill when paying, even if he came back three times. The pinched face woman in front of her always counted out exact change, much to the eye rolls of the people behind her. And some of these people got breakfast, lunch, and afternoon coffee here. It made her want to cry – the average person here spent more in this cafe in a week than she earned in an entire day!

Below the til, hidden from view, her legs kicked lightly as she lost herself in thought, only half paying attention to those around her. Every day, she sat in this little space, tallying up the items slid across the shiny metal surface at her. And every day, she chafed. It wasn’t that it was a terrible job, but god it was boring.

Later that morning, Rachel sat on an upturned crate at the back shipping doors, letting the weak sunlight shine on her face as she listened to her food service coworkers rattle away about their meaningless, boring lives. She couldn’t even pretend to be interested as one turned to another and began giggling about a cute guy she had met, or about how another was boasting she had gotten some knockoff Coach purse. Who cared?

Rachel knew she was good at her job. And that both pleased her and infuriated her. Because she knew that she was capable of so much more than being a cashier. During their breaks the food preps, cooks and other cashiers talked about their lives in a way that made the woman want to rip at her hair, and occurred daily. What she was hearing now wasn’t the exception, it was the rule. It wasn’t that the young lady thought less of them for wanting to stay where they were, but she just didn’t want to do it with them. They didn’t seem to have any hopes and dreams about their careers, or plans on how to get there. If anything, they seemed to secretly mock her for her own. Hardly fair.

Even her family couldn’t seem to get that she could want anything from life except a solid, service industry job that barely paid the bills. Why, weren’t those jobs good enough for her? Did she want to be some intellectual fancy pants? Why would she want to step above herself and her own circle?

They weren’t question she could answer easily – or even at all. All that Rachel knew was that since she was a child, she had a massive, driving force within her. It wasn’t a sense of superiority, just a relentless, driving drone, urging her to do better. It didn’t make her feel like a fancy pants – it was frustrating, exhausting and perpetually grinding. The only one who came close to comprehending her was her father, and even he couldn’t fathom the heights she aspired to. Hell, even she didn’t have a limit on what she wanted to do – only to do more. To do better. To be better.

“So what did you do on the weekend, Rachael?” Debbie asked, tapping her cigarette with her thumb.

Rachel glanced at her, startled out of her reflections. “Not too much. Was studying…”

The other woman snorted. “Still trying to get into that fancy University?”

“College, actually…”

Debbie ignored her, as she always did. “You need to settle down and stop grinding on yourself. It isn’t healthy. You need a kid or two in your life – that will focus you.”

The thought of raising children, on her salary, filled her with horror. She didn’t precisely begrudge her parents for their own choice, but she refused to bring a child into a world where she could barely provide for herself, let alone another. “I’d have to find a guy, first,” she said instead.

“I’ve heard,” Tracy whispered to her right, “That…’little people’ like you are in high demand, because your proportions are still normal. Saw it on CSI. Have you tried dating another little person?”

Irritation rose. “I’m not a little person, Tracy. Just very short.”

Doubt was clearly written on the other’s face. “Are you sure? How do you know?”


Having retreated into her own mind and screamed this mindless mental string of sheer rage, she exited that sanctuary calmly. “I’m 4 feet 11 inches, Tracy. I’m not a ‘little person’, I just came out very small.” Standing – which, given her height barely signified anything at all – she gazed up at the other pointedly. “Gotta get back to work.” The warmer air of the hallway struck her warm cheeks. If only she could hide her anger better. Whenever she got upset or nervous her face turned red. The warmth on her cheeks told her that she was all red in the face.

Why people felt they had the right to comment on her height always galled her. There wasn’t anything she could do about it – it was what it was. Even if she was small, why was it a topic anyone could just comment on? It wasn’t just her coworkers. Random strangers felt the need to point, giggle, aww or comment. With her boyish body, Rachel had taken to wearing teenage clothes. Unless someone looked closely, they just thought she was a kid dressing up like a teenager. No one took her seriously if she dressed like an adult - it only seemed to draw attention more.



Drawing up her bar stool, the young woman stared down at the pages in front of her, written closely through with many scratches and recalculations. For a moment, she grabbed her hair and pulled as hard as she could until tears rose to her eyes before allowing her head to drop into her arms.

Monthly Take Home Pay: 1200
Rent: -450
Food: -100
Help parents: -200
Phone: -40
Transportation: -175
Other: -100
Leftover savings: $135

Tuition? Like 5K a YEAR!!!! So…she would get in? A few quick scratches. In like 3 years???

Tears rose up again, and she dashed at them impatiently, looking at the numbers. If she cut her phone down to a $20 prepay, and if she stopped eating anything except at work…and if she stopped buying clothes except at the thrift soap…that would be like an extra $100 bucks a month.

All she could do was try to keep saving until she got accepted. Her grades hadn’t been high enough to get a scholarship or bursary because she had worked full time since she was thirteen in order to help keep a roof over her sibling’s heads. The banks and national student loan centre had taken one look at her parent’s credit history and sent her ‘with regret’ notices. Apparently, her family had signed her name to business documents while she was a child – and as her parent’s credit had tanked, so had hers.

Sliding down onto the floor of her dingy little basement apartment, she stared at the walls, eyes beginning to burn. If she gave up the apartment, it would be an extra $450. There wasn’t any room for her at her parent’s place – if she could stand to go back - and it would take her over three hours to get to work if she didn’t live nearby. Maybe she could get a roommate? Split the rent?

Placing her head on her knees, Rachel let the hot tears fall. No matter what it took she would do it, she vowed, dashing at the tears angrily. Standing resolutely, she stared down at the numbers.

Food – five bucks. Get rid of the cell altogether. Get rid of other expenses – dentist and doctor stuff could wait. Get a roommate. You could have enough for the first year of college in like, a year and a half.

Do it.

You can do it.

No matter what.


“That’s a pretty bad cough, Rachel,” Tracy said with concern as she bustled by with the disposable utensils. “You should get some cough medicine, lovey.”

Do you know how expensive cough medicine is? She demanded silently at the wide back of the retreating woman. Rachel had looked at it, and nearly keeled over at the white pricetag in the drug store. One little container was fifteen bucks! I’d rather hack it out, she thought irritably.. “Yeah,” she croaked instead before coughing into the crook of her arm.

Her arm kept shaking a little, and she glared at it. Granted, she wasn’t eating a lot and this cold had taken it out of her, but she wasn’t that weak.

The good news was that her plan was working. The bad news was that she was so tired. Some days, the only thing that kept her going was the little slip of receipt paper from the bank. She would get that little paper weekly and stare down at the tiny figures hungrily. Seeing that money accumulate was the only thing preventing her from losing her mind and frittering it all away.

Not spending anything was harder than she would have thought. So many little things came up that just ate away at her money – like cough syrup, tylonol, tampons…! Tampons she couldn’t forgo, but the first two she could, and did. The other area that was difficult was food. She had never had a particularly big appetite, but not being able to eat regularly was making her have borderline erotic dreams about food. Last night she had dreamed that she was eating a big juicy orange, the juices running down her fingers, wrists...mmm. Oranges weren’t supposed to be so stimulating!

It was also making her weak, tired, and unable to concentrate. There were days when she leaned her head back it felt like there were ten pound weights on her eyelids. A few times, her eyes had popped open and she could have sworn she fell asleep for a few minutes – but glancing around showed it had been a moment, if anything.

Rubbing her swollen eyes, she glanced at her coworkers, jealous of the coffees in front of them and their seemingly boundless energy. Short term pain, long term gain, she chanted to herself. Haul yourself up by your bootstraps, girl!

Her mother was getting mad at her, not being able to text and call her – but Rachel simply couldn’t afford to have a cell phone right now. Every Friday she went over and spent some time with them. It was weird and wonderful being both away from, and with, her family.

The family itself was large – her grandfather had been one of twelve children, and he had made ten of his own. She herself was the only girl among four other boys. Being so large and spread out, they didn’t often get to see each other all at once, but they tended to spend a lot of time together in their little “family units” as her brother said. Having left home last year, it felt odd to go home to quiet. She had grown up with yelling and banging and talking all around her...but it also felt pretty good, to be away from them. Not having to worry about people touching her stuff or bothering her.

I love them, but god are they annoying, Rachel thought with a sigh and a string of dry coughs as she gathered up her strength for the trip out to her parent's house.

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